The Forever King (The Scalussen Chronicles Book 1) by Ben Galley

Blurb:

In Emaneska, to consort with magick is to court death. Banned by the Arka Empire, magick’s purging has finally brought peace to a war-torn land.

Like any dutiful citizen, Mithrid Fenn wants nothing to do with magick. but when an illegal spellbook washes up on a beach after a battle between giant, unknown ships, Mithrid Fenn is thrust into a war she never knew existed. Her family slaughtered, Mithrid finds herself hunted by daemons and the emperor’s assassins. She is dragged inexorably north to Scalussen, where mages, dragons, beastpeople, and witches doggedly wage a war for freedom against the tyrannical empire.

But Mithrid only cares for revenge and nothing nobler. If killing the emperor means helping the Outlaw King, then so be it. Even if it means drowning the world in fire.

My Take:

I come to this book as a reader of the author’s Chasing Graves trilogy. An Egyptian-inspired fantasy book about enslaved souls… and the riches and politics that surround the famed Arctian Empire. I thoroughly enjoyed those novels and that opened me up to other books by the author, but you know the nature of TBRs… Ben reached out to me last year when this book was released and to be honest I started reading several times before the it really clicked. It may be because I had never read the other parts of the Emaniska Series, or I suspect that I felt overwhelmed by the short history lesson at the beginning… I kept thinking, am I gonna need to know this?

Here are some things that I found in the story… Well-drawn central POV characters. Mithrid’s life is thrown into chaos immediately in the first several pages. And a double switch on the part of the enemy/ allies just shows what type of book the reader is getting into.

I also enjoyed the range of worldbuilding… from focused spellcasting to brief tidbits of historical importance to geographical details, I think Galley does a superb job of including all parts of Emaneska in the writing.

The one major issue I found with the storytelling is connected to the multiple POVs. The author throws a lot of balls in the air, and at times I felt that some of the characters were left outside of the frame for too long. I think this is a hard decision for an author when thinking about scope of narrative and depth of characters.

The Forever King is a big book… certainly page count can be a factor, but this novel screams big characters, dragons, magic, and war. Enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy for review.

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